Good people of Concordia, and all the priesthood of believers God has gathered in this place, we have just heard from 1st Peter that we are called to care for God’s flock with diligence. Not because we have to, not because it will earn points with God or build up resumes or reputations, but because the Holy Spirit blows in and through God’s people, moving believers to want to love, serve, and please God.
- The text reminds that tending God’s flock, is not about bossily telling others what to do, but is rather all about, tenderly showing them the way of Jesus.
- It goes on to say, that we all are to follow our leaders and that leaders and followers alike are to be down to earth with one another. God has had it with the pious and the proud, and thankfully God takes delight in ordinary people like you and me.
- We are reminded to be content with who and more importantly, whose we are, not putting on airs and living in hope, because God’s strong hand is with you and this flock.
+ + +
The Gospel also refers to caring for flocks, from the youngest to the most seasoned, from those hungry for good news to those with a lifetime of experience and wisdom. It is a message of love for those called to leadership roles, especially those called to the office of pastor. Love, love the cute little lambs, love the stubborn stinking sheep, and love the flock of squawking, sometimes angry Lutherans. Love the flock you’re with. Love because as that great theologian Stevie Wonder sings: Love’s in need of love today.
Concordia Lutheran Church is a flock of Lutheran lambs, sheep, and angry birds… Wait, did he just said angry birds, as in the most amazing and downloaded computer, video game and smart phone game of all time.
- A game that’s been played on the down low during synod assembly sessions, worship services, and in seminary and confirmation classes.
- A game one ELCA regional coordinator plays at meetings, and
- A game that is rumored as beloved by a bishop or two.
Yes, I did reference Angry Birds and just for the record, I have no knowledge that your Bishop Jerge, or my Bishop Payne have encountered angry birds outside of synodical or congregational council meetings.
If you’re not familiar with this addictive animated distraction, let me bring you up to speed… Angry Birds was developed by Finnish game design firm Rovio Mobile, where allegedly, lots of talented Lutherans work. It was released in late 2009 and since then has sold more than 12 million copies.
The goal of the Angry Birds is to save eggs from evil green pigs by way of a flying attack on them and the places they hide in. These birds might be angry because their wingless and have no feet, forcing one to draw on all their geometry, physics and pool room experience by launching them old school ‘David and Goliath style’ with a slingshot the gamer controls.
Before you feel sorry for these birds, watch and get to know them. They look focused, called one could say as they eagerly get into your slingshot, determined disciples ready for their mission. Angry Birds is more than a fun game, it is an image for you, me and the flock God has gathered as the church. I know that the Gospel of John references a flock of lambs and sheep, but I see the church referred to as a flock in our texts this day as one also full of angry birds.
Birds of all shapes and colors…
- Conservative birds and liberal birds.
- Traditional birds and contemporary birds.
- Orthodox birds and emergent birds.
- Old birds and young chicks…
that’s not a sexist reference, just making sure you’re still with me.
The point is that God gathers you and I, saints and sinners, tender lambs, stubborn old sheep and angry birds together as the body of Christ.
- A body that Jesus returned to three times in the 21st chapter of John.
- A body that Jesus loves so much, he feeds from breakfast at the lakeshore, to the bread of heaven and cup of salvation at his table.
- A body that Jesus knows intimately, as it is his,
- A body that he asks, knowing the answer, if the one whom he asks to tend his flock, loves him.
A flock that sometimes acts like angry birds because evil always tries to divert us from God’s call…
- So we end up squawking loudly, tearing things and people down,
- We shoot our frustration and anger onto others, often missing the root cause,
- And we blame others, blowing up structures and flocks indiscriminately.
The flock that is the church is not a private roost for saints, it is a hospital for sinners and angry birds called to direct all the gifts we have been given…
- So we squawk loudly, advocating and praying for those without a voice,
- We shoot our frustration and anger at broken and selfish systems, focusing on the root causes of injustice and oppression,
- And we move beyond blaming others, to blowing up only the sinful structures that keep us from loving, caring and sharing.
+ + +
Of course a central symbol of the Holy Spirit is a bird, the dove of peace and not the angry bird of a computer game. May we all keep focused on, and praying for the heavenly dove. The heavenly dove that coos and calls us to love one another, the heavenly dove who gathers this flock, brings this day a new shepherd, a new pastor, a fellow angry bird to share the ministry of loving Jesus together.
Steve you have been called by God to help the people of Concordia
- To know their place in the Creator’s story,
- To experience their place at, and the grace of the Cross of Jesus, and
- To guide their paths as the Holy Spirit, heavenly dove breathes faith and direction into your lives together.
As the Holy Spirit gathers you for breakfast in this place each Sunday,
- may you be filled with the Word,
- splash in the Waters of Baptism,
- feast at the Lord’s Table,
- and together fan the flames of mission, doing God’s work with your hands.
Holy hands that reach beyond these walls, beyond the Kendall town line, beyond Orleans County, and Upstate New York…
Holy hands fanning flames of faith, sharing the Good News of God’s Story, feeding and healing a hungry and broken world…
In the name of Jesus.